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Meaningful IoT: Real World Value, Ready Now

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The IoT landscape is complicated to comprehend, and nearly impossible to navigate. With start-ups popping up all over the world, with tech giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM placing massive bets on creating “the” cloud or platform or ecosystem world domination style, and with telecom companies (whom one would expect to lead in the networked world) lagging in developing serious revenue, it’s no wonder the ultimate beneficiaries of IoT offerings are confused, and almost paralyzed. Those beneficiaries? Enterprises whose businesses can save money, improve quality of service, and innovate new business models.

We caught up recently with Dave McCarthy, Senior Director of Products for Bsquare, to get his take on what’s taking the IoT so long to really take off as industry pundits have predicted for years.

Bsquare, by the way, is one of the handful of companies who have succeeded in generating real revenue in the IoT technology industry announcing a deployment of its DataV software and systems integration services by a Fortune 500 company.

“IoT in general is a convergence of different technologies coming together,” McCarthy said. “It’s not one thing, it is a multitude of things intersecting…not just clouds or devices, but everything in between that creates business value. IoT needs to be meaningful – business meaningful. If not, it’s just technology. We’re now very rapidly moving IoT out of the lab and into the real world.”

Making Sense of the Sensed World in Industrial Applications
One of the big winners in the vast IoT landscape is in the Industrial IoT (IIoT) domain, where the business value is immediately evident – optimizing uptime of equipment, ensuring maintenance is managed efficiently, validating the return on investment in bought or leased infrastructure.

Even in the IIoT world, companies that could save multiple millions of dollars by managing their factories more efficiently are finding it difficult to understand how the IoT practically comes together.

“The IoT ecosystem is difficult for enterprises to navigate. Incomplete solutions, too many vendors, and not enough skilled developers are making the decisions to invest in large IoT deployments complicated,” McCarthy explained. “Implementing an IoT strategy might require you to put together 6-7 parts then find an 8th company to do the engineering and integration. It’s hard, but it’s getting easier as more systems integrators and service providers are coming into the market with end-to-end solutions.”

McCarthy also pointed to an imbalance of focus, with a lot of attention being paid to the lower level aspects - connectivity, dashboards, and other basic components – with less attention being paid to the business use cases. “Too many people are enamored with technology and don’t focus on the immediate, straightforward cost savings and quality improvements that deliver value today,” McCarthy said.

Enterprises are not used to pulling teams together who work in so many different disciplines, which corporate IIoT initiatives require. “When we bring together the physical world, for example large factory floors with many different kinds of equipment, with the digital world, by adding sensors to that equipment, the working team must include factory managers, equipment providers, the IT teams, finance teams, and more,” McCarthy said. “We’ve been to meetings where individuals within the same company are meeting for the first time, exchanging business cards across the table.”

The collaboration and creativity is what excites McCarthy, who moved up in his career from traditional IT services work inside companies to his current role in product marketing. “I have always enjoyed solving business problems with software and devices, so the opportunity to explore this and contribute in new ways has been thrilling.”

Start Somewhere, Connect Everywhere
Another part of Bsquare’s success has been building their business based on relationships – and engaging in initial projects that solve one problem, then growing those into IoT networks for their clients that have the potential to solve many problems, which makes their investment in IoT platforms scale naturally. “For every business there is some initial use case that drives them into action,” McCarthy said. For example, they may wish to reduce the cost of energy in their buildings, and after they see those business outcomes happen, they realize they can leverage their infrastructure and knowledge to tackle another related problem (example securing their facilities using the same IIoT network).

Uptime All The Time
Expert in IIoT solutions that can get the most out of every dollar spent on real estate, equipment, and operating infrastructure, Bsquare says predictive solutions are trending. Before a failure occurs, we can identify the need for maintenance, parts replacement, or other tuning. “The data-driven diagnostic approach by itself makes it possible for our customers to get a quick return on investment,” McCarthy explained. “We can enable our customers to offer ‘uptime as a service,’ and are helping them, and the service providers who support them, create entirely new business models including the ability to use data to understand how to price products, services, maintenance and even insurance plans.”

Plays Well with Others
As experienced and successful as Bsquare’s team is, they are equally humble and recognize that the IoT and IIoT is a team sport. “We acknowledge that IoT requires a diverse ecosystem,” McCarthy said. “We enjoy working with partners and consider ourselves part of a much broader and very important, meaningful revolution where industry and technology intersect. We have learned that it’s important to share the business story, the actual value creation, and where the real economic upside is, including in data and analytics.”

With investment in hiring data scientists to help envision how real time information can be gathered, analyzed, and consumed into decision-making systems, Bsquare has been able to lay out the “true value” of the IIoT, staying focused every day on how they are truly helping businesses predict and control not only “things” but costs, quality of service, and optimization of capital investments – which translates into tangible, practical and clear, continuous improvements.

You can meet Dave McCarthy personally at the IoT Evolution Conference and Expo where he will be speaking on three panels (Fog Computing: Process Driven Decisions; Industry 4.0: IoT and Manufacturing; and Industrial IoT Strategies).




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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